A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 351: Sunday God Quote – Jan Richardson

GabrielAndMary

Image: Gabriel and Mary © Jan Richardson

What was Gabriel’s experience of the Annunciation? This is the intriguing question posed by artist and poet Jan Richardson. We so often see angels as an ancient, bright and shiny version of sending someone a Tweet (however, a Divine Tweet) – A message often devoid of the flesh and blood person of the messenger. It is easy to forget that these beings clearly have personality, individuality and very distinct roles in scripture. The poem I share today by Richardson delves into the mindset of the angel called to deliver perhaps the most famous message of all time.

I would strongly encourage you to visit Jan Richardson’s blog, adventdoor.com, for more readings and artwork. Her work will greatly help anyone seeking to find the grounding of truth that gives meaning during the days leading up to Christmas.

Gabriel’s Annunciation

For a moment
I hesitated
on the threshold.
For the space
of a breath
I paused,
unwilling to disturb
her last ordinary moment,
knowing that the next step
would cleave her life:
that this day
would slice her story
in two,
dividing all the days before
from all the ones
to come.

The artists would later
depict the scene:
Mary dazzled
by the archangel,
her head bowed
in humble assent,
awed by the messenger
who condescended
to leave paradise
to bestow such an honor
upon a woman, and mortal.

Yet I tell you
it was I who was dazzled,
I who found myself agape
when I came upon her—
reading, at the loom, in the kitchen,
I cannot now recall;
only that the woman before me—
blessed and full of grace
long before I called her so—
shimmered with how completely
she inhabited herself,
inhabited the space around her,
inhabited the moment
that hung between us.

I wanted to save her
from what I had been sent
to say.

Yet when the time came,
when I had stammered
the invitation
(history would not record
the sweat on my brow,
the pounding of my heart;
would not note
that I said
Do not be afraid
to myself as much as
to her)
it was she
who saved me—
her first deliverance—
her Let it be
not just declaration
to the Divine
but a word of solace,
of soothing,
of benediction

for the angel
in the doorway
who would hesitate
one last time—
just for the space
of a breath
torn from his chest—
before wrenching himself away
from her radiant consent,
her beautiful and
awful yes.

– Jan Richardson

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